The Short and Long of Freddie Green: How He Varied The Length Of The Quarter Note Pulse

Tune: From Coast To Coast
Composer: Ernie Wilkins
Transcription starts at 5'45"; ends at 6'13"
From the album: One O'Clock Jump: Ella Fitzgerald-Count Basie-Joe Williams  
Leader of the session: Count Basie       
Recording date: June 27, 1956 
CD: Verve 314 559 806-2
Tempo: 206 beats per minute

"From Coast to Coast" is a twelve bar blues.  This transcribed excerpt is typical of Freddie Green's approach to the blues in the key of F.  [See the transcription of "Cute", also in F, as a comparative example.]

The rhythmic notation of this transcription is different than my past transcriptions to illustrate how Freddie would vary the length of his quarter note pulse.  His "normal" quarter note pulse would be approximately an eighth note followed by an eighth note rest; the rest occuring as he released the left hand tension on the strings, thus "choking" the sound.  To vary his rhythm guitar sound, he would also play a pulse that lasted nearly the entire quarter note; this longer pulse would be placed on beat one and/or beat three.  In this twenty-four measure segment of "From Coast to Coast", Freddie employed the longer pulse in fifteen measures, a total of 18 pulses (19% of the 96 pulses).  To appreciate the subtle effect of this pulse length variation, it is essential to hear the recording. 

The chord diagrams illustrate probable voicing forms used by Freddie Green based on extensive research conducted by the primary contributors to this web site. As there is no video record of this recording session, Freddie's exact fingerings will never be known. Note that Freddie often used his left thumb to mute or partially depress the 6th string.  

  • An "x" indicates that a finger is placed on the string, but the string is not fully pushed down to make contact with the fret.

  • A "black dot" or "white dot" indicates that a finger is placed on the string, and the string is pushed down to make contact with the fret.  A white dot also indicates that the note is added to the voicing played on the previous beat. Adding an upper note on beat 2 or 4 is a typical Freddie Green technique.

  • If there is no "x", "black dot", or "white dot", the string is fully damped by a finger of the left hand.

For instruction on how to play one note and two note voicings, see: 

Transcribed by Michael Pettersen, September 2005   

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